Members of the Water Producers Association of Nigeria (WAPAN) and the Association for Table Water Producers of Nigeria (ATWAP) at the weekend said about 20,000 jobs would be lost if the federal government implements the proposed Excise Duty on carbonated beverages.
There are also indications that the cost of ‘pure of water’ may rise from N20 to N50 per sachet with the policy.
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A sachet of water has in one year increased three times, from N5 to N10 and to N20.
The House of Representatives Committee on Finance had in August 2021, resolved that it would amend the Finance Act to include levies on all carbonated and non-carbonated drinks.
Speaking at an event in Lagos, the National President of WAPAN, Eneri Odiri Jackson, said the introduction of levies on chemicals for the production of water would have a multiplier effect on the economy.
He advised the government to first consult widely next year before any such decision. “There is no doubt that the price of pure water will rise from the present N20 to about N50,” he added.
The National President of Association for Table Water Producers of Nigeria (ATWAP), Mrs. Clementina Chinwe Ativie, said the group’s membership has declined by 16,000 owing to various economic challenges even when the price of table water per unit has recorded over 150% increase in prices in the last two years.
“Let’s suspend the idea of reintroducing the excise duty on both carbonated and non-carbonated beverages,” she urged.
However, the Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hammed Ali, who was represented by the Controller, Lagos Industrial Command, Comptroller Monica Shaahu, noted that bringing the carbonated non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks under excise control will cushion the effects of the over-dependence on oil/import duty revenue.
“Away from the revenue view, the health and environment hazards presented by the production and consumption of carbonated drinks will be reduced, bringing them under regulation and control.”
The Customs boss, however, agreed that there is a need to have more stakeholders’ engagement on the issue following the concerns by Nigerian manufacturers.
Chairman of Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, Kunle Folarin, said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should consider claims by manufacturers that while N81 billion would be gained by customs annually, the government could lose N197bn in VAT and other taxes if the companies fold up.
A member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Dr. Ikenna Nwosu, advised that the initiative be shelved for one year to allow for robust consultations.